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5 Retail Trends for the 2020 Holidays — and How Marketers Can Capitalize With Call Tracking

Derek Andersen Senior Content & SEO Specialist, DialogTech

The 2020 holiday season is stacking up to be different than any in recent memory. COVID-19 has altered the way consumers shop, engage with retailers, and ultimately make purchases. And, in the US, these changes aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

Discover some of the most important trends retail marketers will see this holiday season, as well as how a call tracking solution can help you capitalize on them.

1. The 2020 Holiday Season Will Start Earlier

For years, consumers have been moving their holiday shopping earlier. A Criteo study shows that buyers who shop for the first time from a retailer during Black Friday weekend make their first online visit 41 days prior to their purchase, on average. That’s almost six weeks for a holiday shopper to search, evaluate, and investigate a Black Friday purchase.

And this year, there’s another factor pushing the holiday shopping season even earlier. Because of COVID-19 concerns, Amazon pushed Prime Day to autumn. This move adds another layer to why 2020’s “big deals season” will be earlier than ever.

With this new holiday season in mind, marketers need to create touchpoints that engage customers early, even if it doesn’t pay off right away.

2. Retailers Will Receive Higher Call Volumes Than in Previous Years

From February 2020 to the start of July 2020, our customers in the retail space saw nearly a 75% increase in inbound phone calls. With in-person interactions limited by shelter-in-place orders, consumers relied on the call channel to ask retailers questions, check inventory, and make purchases.

Though lockdown restrictions have since been eased, many consumers are hesitant to shop in-store due to safety concerns. 60% of shoppers plan to shop less in-store this season due to fear of COVID-19 exposure. Therefore, we expect to see much higher call volume this year than during previous holiday seasons, as consumers will use this channel to get pre-purchase information and buy products more than ever before.

3. In-Store Pickups Will Increase

Because consumers are looking to reduce their in-store interactions, we’ll continue to see an increase in in-store pickups. These in-store pickups can be arranged after a purchase is made either online or over the phone.

While in-store pickups have been a feature for a while now, COVID-19 has dramatically increased this usage. Consider these stats from recent studies:

  • Research from Signifyd shows that BOPIS (buy online and pickup in store) orders more than doubled globally in June.
  • 30% of consumers surveyed by Salesforce report using store pickup more than usual since the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • 50% of consumers plan to use in-store pickup during the 2020 holiday season.
  • 51.7% of consumers plan to buy items online for in-store pickup during the holidays—a 20.8% increase compared with 2019.

4. Mobile Devices Will Play an Even Greater Role in the Consumer Journey

Mobile shopping has been on the rise for years, but it has seen a more dramatic increase in 2020, as consumers limit their in-store interactions.

According to eMarketer, U.S. mobile commerce sales are expected to reach $314 billion in 2020 and represent 44% of projected total e-commerce sales. And, as of late April, 76% of consumers reported an increase in mobile purchasing compared to earlier in the year, when 51% said they had bought something using their phone.

During the holidays, this trend projected to continue: 66% of shoppers anticipate they will increase their online purchases during the 2020 holiday season. There will also be fewer opportunities to shop in-store — Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have already announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, and other retailers are expected to follow suit. Experts project that 2020 might be the year when doorbuster deals come to an end and are replaced by mobile discounts and online shopping done over a longer period.

5. Consumers Will Demand Seamless Omnichannel Experiences

Expectations for the retail journey have never been higher. In a recent survey, 70% of consumers say they will exclusively shop with brands that can demonstrate that they personally understand them this holiday season. Additionally, 49% of shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase from retailers that send personalized offers.

To meet these expectations, it’s important to create a strong omnichannel marketing strategy. Omnichannel marketing, for the uninitiated, is the practice of aligning all your marketing channels, assets, and activities to create a unified, personalized experience for each consumer. The omnichannel experience includes the research phase, the online purchasing experience, the call experience, and the in-store pickup experience.

83% of consumers say they require a positive experience to remain loyal to a brand — regardless of the channel they’re engaging on. To create positive omnichannel experiences in our current landscape, you need to take the requisite COVID-19 precautions for your consumers and effectively communicate your policies to your customers. Failing to provide a seamless and safe omnichannel experience this holiday season will cost you revenue.

How Marketers Can Use Call Tracking to Capitalize on These Holiday Season Retail Trends

The trends above paint a bigger picture of how consumer behavior is changing. This holiday season, the in-store shopping experience will be limited due to COVID-19, placing increased importance on both online shopping and the call channel.

With more consumers shopping online first and calling call centers and stores for information or to make purchases, retail marketers need to have a strategy in place to ensure that they’re providing a seamless experience over the phone. As I mentioned above, expectations for the consumer journey are at an all-time high — and this includes the call channel. Failing to deliver frictionless call experiences will cost you revenue.

Understand the Marketing Sources Driving Your Most Valuable Phone Calls

Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech allow you to understand the marketing sources driving not only the most calls — but the most revenue-generating calls to your retail locations. This allows you to optimize your marketing spend for the programs that are truly driving the most revenue.

For instance, one of your holiday search ads may not be driving many online conversions. However, with data-driven insights from call tracking, you may discover it’s driving a large number of call conversions, making it your highest-performing campaign. With this view of how your campaigns are driving results — both online and over the phone — you can make smarter optimizations to drive more revenue at a lower CPL.

Sample Report: See which marketing sources are driving the most sales opportunity phone calls

Detect Issues Impacting Your Call Conversion Rates

Call tracking not only provides visibility into where calls are coming from and what’s happening on those calls, but you can also gain insights into call handling and answer rates.

DialogTech’s reports allow you to see if your calls are going unanswered or hanging up during certain times or at certain locations and then diagnose the issues. For instance, calls may be coming outside of store hours, locations or call centers may be understaffed, or call volumes may be unusually high. To correct these issues, you can adjust your staffing or set up an IVR or dynamic routing rules (more on this later).

Sample Report: See how your locations are handling the calls driven by your marketing

DialogTech also identifies how well your call centers and locations are converting calls. You can then diagnose call handling issues by digging into the call transcriptions and recordings (more on this in the next section).

View Transcriptions and Recordings to Understand What’s Happening on Calls

Call tracking and analytics platforms like DialogTech give you a searchable database of call recordings and transcriptions that you can tap into. This allows you to see what’s occurring on the inbound calls your marketing is driving to call centers and locations and use these insights to make optimizations that drive more conversions.

You can analyze your recordings and transcriptions to see if your locations, call centers, and remote agents are saying the right things when consumers call. You can then pinpoint any issues. For instance, are they failing to mention holiday promotions? Are they accurately describing the safety precautions you’re enacting for any in-person interactions? You can then take steps to remedy them. In addition, you can share these recordings and transcriptions with your locations and/or call centers to use as coaching tools to improve performance.

Sample DialogTech call transcription

You can also use transcriptions to discover common caller questions and concerns — such as FAQs on in-store pickups — and add them to your website and product pages to get more SEO visits and improve conversion rates.

Use IVRs and Dynamic Routing to Improve Caller Experiences

If you’re experiencing unmanageably high call volumes, you can also consider using your call tracking solution to set up an IVR (interactive voice response). You can configure an IVR to ask callers why they’re calling, route them to the best destination based on their responses, provide answers to common questions (such as FAQs about your COVID-19 precautions and store hours), and more.

You can also set up dynamic routing rules, in tandem with or independent of your IVRs. Below are several routing configurations that can improve conversion rates for retailers:

  • Have calls forwarded to specific agents, locations, or IVRs based on your retail location hours
  • Ring multiple agents’ phones at the same time — the agent who picks up first gets the call
  • Use hunt groups that ring other phone numbers if the main location line goes unanswered
  • Route calls to your highest-performing retail locations first

Set up rules in DialogTech to route more calls to your highest-performing locations

To learn more about how call tracking can help you enhance caller experiences this holiday season, check out our ebook, The Digital Marketer’s Playbook for Unanswered & Unconverted Calls.

Want to learn more about how call tracking can help you enhance caller experiences this holiday season? Check out our ebook, The Digital Marketer’s Playbook for Unanswered & Unconverted Calls.

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